I’m not sure there could be more bizarre news in America than the news that Lawrence O’Donnell reported the other night — that the Assistant District Attorney read the wrong law to the Grand Jury as the standard by which they were supposed to measure things. The law that she showed them said that “legitimate force” includes shooting a suspect from behind if they are fleeing. That particular version of the law was written years before and found unconstitutional. Would they have found him guilty on the other standard? We will never know.
That right — and the right to justice for the family — was removed right then. I don’t know much about law, but isn’t it unethical or unprofessional to give the Grand Jury the wrong instructions? That woman should be fired. Whether she is or not doesn’t matter. Michael Brown’s family will never get justice.
OK, as if that’s not bizarre enough, there are reports that Darren Wilson left the scene with evidence, washed off his gun, and came back? Then the fact that no less than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia weighted in on the case and said the Grand Jury did what Grand Juries are supposed to not do — try the case. Then, Officer Wilson got to testify before the Grand Jury? That his superiors spent time with evidence? That another policeman didn’t take notes of an interview? Does anyone else hear “systemic coverup”?
I want to believe in the system. I want to believe that the right people did the right things and the right verdict came out — whatever that is. But that is not what happened. What happened is that the wrong people asked the wrong people to do the wrong thing and come up with a correct answer. They did what they were told to do, and not surprisingly, they came up with an answer that had nothing to do with justice. There are two choices here: 1) The authorities didn’t know it was wrong, and are thus incompetent or 2) the authorities knew what they were doing, and did it intentionally, in which case they are corrupt.
Because there are so many parts to this, actual justice — or at least the justice that White people normally get — won’t happen. Once again, African-Americans live in a parallel universe, segregated from the rights promised them by the Constitution.
Make no mistake, there is method to the madness. In my work as a therapist, I have come to realize that when people are stuck fighting about reality nothing can change, and nothingwill.
Whether a bi-product of, or an actual intended consequence, this is what happens. Michael Brown’s death is a loss in the war that is the quest for racial justice/equality. We will continue to remain stuck if we continue to argue about the reality of his case. Ferguson must become a lost skirmish for now. It may need to become a sidetrack that we can return to at a later date.
In the meantime, we need to get back to learning how these things happen. Then we need to do something different. We must look in the nooks and crannies of hiring and election and diversity and how we treat each other and how and why we give respect and authority. Mostly we need to look in our hearts, and teach others to do the same.
THIS just isn’t working.